A group of Uber drivers has recently been granted class action status by a federal judge in a worker misclassification case that could end up impacting more than 160,000 drivers for the company.
This case, Douglas O'Connor et al vs. Uber Technologies Inc., U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 13-3826, alleges that Uber has misclassified its drivers as independent contractors, rather than employees.
According to the complaint, this misclassification has led to drivers:
- Having to cover various work-related costs – like the costs of gas and vehicle maintenance – out of their own pockets
- Not getting the tips paid by their clients from Uber
- Being denied other benefits that employees are provided, like workers' compensation and healthcare benefits.
A Closer Look at the Ruling
The ruling in question was issued by U.S. District Judge Edward Chen earlier this month. It has now specifically allowed Uber drivers to sue the company as a group regarding the issue of whether they are independent contractors or employees.
In fact, Chen specifically wrote in his ruling that, “on one hand, Uber argues that it has properly classified every single driver as an independent contractor.” However, Chen noted, Uber is contending that the uniqueness of each driver precludes the court and “apparently, Uber itself” from being able to make a decisive determination.
Chen went on to argue that “[there is] no basis… [to affirm at this point] that some innumerable legion of drivers prefer to remain independent contractors rather than become employees [of Uber].”
While this ruling is certainly a victory for the drivers who initiated this complaint, it could have far greater implications on the success of Uber and other ride sharing companies. That's because these companies specifically rely on the independent contractor relationship for their success, they say.
If this case goes to trial and the drivers win (a decision that they are employees, not independent contractors), that could end up raising the company's operating costs dramatically (particularly when the issue of providing benefits is involved). Ultimately, this may be a compelling negotiation tool to try to get Uber to resolve this case prior to trial.
As more news about this case becomes available, we'll report the latest updates here, in a future blog. Until then, we want to know your opinions about this case. Post them on our Facebook & Google+ pages.
Contact an Atlanta Employment Attorney at the Law Firm of Barrett & Farahany, LLP
If you believe an employer has misclassified you as an independent contractor – or has violated any of your rights as a worker, you can turn to an experienced Atlanta employment attorney at the Law Firm of Barrett & Farahany, LLP for aggressive legal advocacy and the highest quality legal services.
To learn more about our services and how we can assist you, contact us today by calling (404) 238-7299 or by emailing us using the contact form at the bottom of this screen.
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